The Righteousness of God

James Buchanan, The Doctrine of Justification, Part 2 LECT. VIII. Justification; The Scriptural Meaning of the Term, Proposition 3

“But at this point he advances a step further, and, having excluded the righteousness of man altogether from the ground of his justification, he brings into view another righteousness, emphatically called ‘the righteousness of God,’ because God claims a special propriety in it, as being peculiarly His own—devised, provided, wrought out, and revealed by Himself alone; he speaks of this righteousness as being now clearly manifested, and fully revealed; and he describes it as ‘a righteousness without the law,’—as a righteousness, since it has some relation to the law; for if it be true that ‘where there is no law, there is no transgression,’ it is equally true, that where there is no law, there is no ‘righteousness;’—and yet a ‘righteousness without the law,’ as being above and beyond the law, —neither contained in it, nor provided by it;—as a ‘righteousness’ which is, nevertheless, ‘witnessed by the law and the prophets,’ having been indicated, although not fully revealed—predicted, prefigured, and promised, when mention was made of Him who ‘should be called the Lord our Righteousness,’ and ‘the Lord in whom all the seed of Israel shall be justified;’ 19—as a ‘righteousness which is by faith,’ and ‘upon all them that believe,’ so that ‘they are justified freely by His grace;’ and ‘if by grace, then is it no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace: and if it be of works, then is it no more grace; otherwise work is no more work;’ ‘for to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt;’ 20—and, finally, as a righteousness which is ‘through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus;’ and which was wrought out for us when ‘God set Him forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness;…that He might be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.’ This result, again, of the revealed method of grace and redemption is the ground of the second part of his conclusion;—’Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the law.’ So that man’s righteousness arising from his works of obedience to the divine Law, is excluded from the ground of his Justification on two distinct grounds,—first, on the ground of God’s Law, which convicts and condemns every sinner;—and secondly, on the ground of God’s method of redeeming mercy, which brings in another righteousness altogether, —the righteousness of Him who ‘became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross.’ It is manifest from the whole course of his argument, that Paul’s design was to explain the method and ground, and even, to some extent, the rationale, of the actual justification of a sinner in the sight of God,—to show how, and why, he may be forgiven and accepted as righteous,—and to set forth this as the immediate privilege of every believer, as soon as he renounces all confidence in his own righteousness, and submits ‘to the righteousness of God.”

James Buchanan, The Doctrine of Justification, Part 2, LECTURE XII, JUSTIFICATION; ITS IMMEDIATE AND ONLY GROUND, THE IMPUTED RIGHTEOUSNESS OF CHRIST, Proposition 16

“But why is it called ‘the righteousness of God?’… Suppose that ‘the righteousness of God’ might mean ‘God’s method of justifying sinners’ when it is said ‘to be manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets,’ can it possibly be understood in that vague sense, when Christ is said to be ‘made of God righteousness to us,’ or when we are said to be ‘made the righteousness of God in Him?’ It means a righteousness by which, and not merely a method in which, we are justified.

If we would understand the reason why it is called ‘the righteousness of God,’ we must bear in mind that there was a twofold manifestation of righteousness in the Cross of Christ: there was first a manifestation of the righteousness of God the Father, in requiring a satisfaction to His justice,—and inflicting the punishment that was due to sin; and to this the Apostle refers when he says, that ‘God set forth Christ to be a propitiation’—’to declare His righteousness, that He might be just, and the Justifier of him that believeth in Jesus;’ there was, secondly, a work of righteousness by God the Son,—His vicarious righteousness as the Redeemer of His people, when He ‘became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross,’ and thus became ‘the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.’ But these two-God’s righteousness which was declared, and Christ’s righteousness which was wrought out, on the Cross—although they may be distinguished, cannot be separated, from one another; for they were indissolubly united in one and the same propitiation; and while the righteousness which is revealed for our Justification may be called ‘the righteousness of God’ with some reference to both, it properly consists in the merit of Christ’s atoning sacrifice and perfect obedience, for these were offered by Him as our substitute and representative.

The same righteousness which is called ‘the righteousness of God,’ is also called ‘the righteousness of Christ.’ We obtain ‘precious faith through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ,’ or, as it might be rendered, ‘through the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ;’ 6 ‘This is the name whereby He shall be called, The Lord our Righteousness.’ 7 He is so called on account of the righteousness which He wrought out by His obedience unto death; for this righteousness is expressly connected with His Mediatorial work. ‘The Lord is well pleased for His righteousness’ sake; He will magnify the law and make it honourable.’ 8 By His vicarious sufferings and obedience, He fulfilled the Law both in its precept and its penalty; and is now said to be ‘the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth,’ 9 while His righteousness is identified with ‘the righteousness of God,’ to which the unbelieving Jews refused to ‘submit themselves,’ and contrasted with ‘their own righteousness’ which they ‘went about to establish,’ ‘as it were by the works of the law.’

In like manner, this righteousness is called ‘the righteousness of One,’ and ‘the obedience of One;’ 10—expressions which serve at once to connect it with the work of Christ, and to exclude from it the personal obedience of the many who are justified. It is called ‘the free gift unto justification of life,’ and ‘the gift of righteousness,’ 11 to show that it is bestowed gratuitously by divine grace, and not acquired by our own obedience. It is called ‘the righteousness which is of faith,’ or ‘the righteousness which is by faith,’ both to distinguish it from faith itself, and also to contrast it with another righteousness which is not received by faith, but ‘sought for as it were by the works of the law.’ 12 It is called ‘the righteousness of God without the law,‘ 13 to intimate that, while it was ‘witnessed by the law and the prophets,’ 14 and while, as ‘a righteousness,’ it must have some relation to the unchangeable rule of rectitude, it was above and beyond what the law could provide, since it depends, not on personal, but on vicarious obedience. And it is called the righteousness ‘which God imputes without works,’ to show that it is ‘reckoned of grace,’ and not ‘of debt,’—that ‘God justifies the ungodly’ 15 by placing this righteousness to their account,—and that He makes it theirs, because it was wrought out for them by Him, ‘who was delivered for their offences, and rose again for their Justification.’ All these expressions relate to one and the same righteousness—the only righteousness which God has revealed for the Justification of sinners,—they are all applicable to the vicarious righteousness of Christ,—and they serve, by their very diversity, to exhibit it in all its various aspects and relations, and to exclude every other righteousness from the ground of our pardon and acceptance, since there is no other to which all these terms can possibly be applied.”

The statements that stick out to me are:

1, “if we would understand the reason why it is called ‘the righteousness of God,’ we must bear in mind that there was a twofold manifestation of righteousness in the Cross of Christ: there was first a manifestation of the righteousness of God the Father, in requiring a satisfaction to His justice,—and inflicting the punishment that was due to sin” [UNCREATED]

2. “secondly, a work of righteousness by God the Son,[CREATED]—His vicarious righteousness as the Redeemer of His people, when He ‘became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross,’ and thus became ‘the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.’ But these two-God’s righteousness which was declared,[UNCREATED] and Christ’s righteousness which was wrought out, on the Cross[CREATED]—********although they may be distinguished, cannot be separated, from one another; for they were indissolubly united in one and the same propitiation;********* and while the righteousness which is revealed for our Justification may be called ‘the righteousness of God’ ********with some reference to both, it properly consists in the merit of Christ’s atoning sacrifice and perfect obedience,******** for these were offered by Him as our substitute and representative”

http://www.rpts.edu/media/DoctrineofJustification-Buchanan.pdf